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A look inside Bere Court in Pangbourne

PUBLISHED: 16:32 08 May 2015 | UPDATED: 16:32 08 May 2015

The south elevation of Bere Court, viewed from the spring daffodils. The woods fill with bluebells as well! © Christopher Tucker

The south elevation of Bere Court, viewed from the spring daffodils. The woods fill with bluebells as well! © Christopher Tucker

Christopher Tucker

For those who fancy owning their own ‘stately home’, an extraordinary property has come on to the market on the edge of pretty Pangbourne

The property is now empty, ready for its next occupants, but this is how the dining room might look © Christopher TuckerThe property is now empty, ready for its next occupants, but this is how the dining room might look © Christopher Tucker

For 35 years Bere Court has been the home of noted photographer Christopher Tucker and wife Sinikka. A career in the film industry within make up and special effects saw him work on numerous well known titles, including The Elephant Man and The Meaning of Life, while Sinikka’s professional history prior to running Christopher’s photography enterprise includes the BBC.

“We had been looking for a Queen Anne period property for four or five years when we saw this one,” says Sinikka. “It was a combination of the house and its history that told us this was the one. It’s a very welcoming home, you don’t always feel that with older properties.”

Fear God. Honor The King. Get the stern message from this part-17th century wooden fire surround. Photo: Maureen McLeanFear God. Honor The King. Get the stern message from this part-17th century wooden fire surround. Photo: Maureen McLean

Over the years the couple tracked down suitable period items to show off the Grade 1 house at its best, but now they are moving on and a chain of ownership stretching back hundreds of years will continue.

The Tuckers restored this amazing 16th century carved stone fireplace, the gilding and decorations are original. Photo: Maureen McLeanThe Tuckers restored this amazing 16th century carved stone fireplace, the gilding and decorations are original. Photo: Maureen McLean

Before we come to the house itself, it’s worth looking at the history of the estate. Bere Court was documented in 744 and although the origin of the name is unknown it is likely there is a connection with the 14th century De La Bere family, Sheriffs of Berkshire.

The Domesday Book records it as having been held for William the Conqueror by a wealthy Norman land owner, and then used by the Abbots of Reading. It’s here that we enter the world of those murky and macabre historic tales of dark deeds.

The last Abbot of Reading Abbey was one Hugh Farringdon, reputedly taken from his lodgings at Bere Court, tried, and executed at The Tower. Eventually the property was held by Sir John Davis, now buried in Pangbourne Church in a large tomb beside the organ.

John Breedon, High Sheriff of Berkshire, held Bere Court until it was auctioned in lots, the Breedon family having largely moved to other locations. Instead they rented it out to various members of the gentry, including the Marquis of Blandford, who established various methods of bee-keeping near Keepers Tower, around which was formed Pangbourne College.

Subsequent owners included George Tate of Tate & Lyle Sugar Company and later Sir David Smith and his wife Lady Helen Smith.

Now that Christopher and Sinikka are moving on, 17th century Bere Court and the adjoining smaller Bere House are for sale, together or as separate lots. The price for both is £4.8million, but you are going to get a lot for your money. There’s over 10 acres of private grounds, and between them the houses offer 19 bedrooms (five in Bere House), 11 bathrooms, and some amazing rooms within the main house, including a Great Hall. Each house has a private driveway, there’s a six-bay garage and various outbuildings.

The property could continue in private use and might make a dream purchase for anyone treasuring a careful restoration project. On the other hand, with planning permission it might make the ideal country house hotel, conference or training facility, or wedding destination.

What’s for sure is that any prospective purchaser is going to be struck by both the history and potential this estate offers as a new era for Bere Court begins.

For more details and to arrange viewing contact Martin & Pole, tel 0118 978 0777, www.martinpole.co.uk

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